TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation agreed Monday to partner with Chicago-based PNE Wind USA Inc. to develop the largest tribal wind farm in the United States.
“The Cherokee Nation is playing a significant role in creating new green jobs and expects to play a key role in Oklahoma's emerging wind energy industry,” said Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “The Cherokee Nation is committed to growing the Oklahoma economy, helping reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil and creating sustainable jobs for our people in the renewable energy sector.”
The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council voted 14-2 to enter into the project that is estimated to generate $16 million over the next 20 years. Development of the 90-turbine wind farm will start immediately on 6,000 acres on the Chilocco property in Kay County, site of a former Indian boarding school.
“The Cherokee Nation has an opportunity to be a leader among Indian nations in renewable energy,” said Deputy Speaker Chuck Hoskin Jr. “The tribe will be able to utilize an underutilized resource. We talk a lot about protecting our environment and conserving our resources, so this is a prime opportunity to put words into action.”
The wind farm would provide 153 megawatts of power to the southwest grid region for homes, businesses and farms.
“This is the largest wind farm on tribal land in the U.S.,” said Ellen Wesley, director of PNE Wind USA Inc. “We’re thrilled to have the Cherokees as a partner in this endeavor. It’s a win for the land and the people.”
The Cherokee Nation owns half of the land on which the wind farm will sit. Chilocco was ideal because of its wind resources, and environmental studies show it will not curtail the migratory bird population. The entire Chilocco wind farm will encompass 6,000 acres total. The other 3,000 acres is owned by four other tribes, the Kaw, Otoe-Missouria, Pawnee and Ponca nations.
In other business, the Tribal Council took action on the following items:
• Passed an act that will allow citizens to receive 90-day prescriptions.
• Passed a resolution to apply for a $4.5 million grant for health center infrastructure from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
• Recognized Jeff Stancil for his work and dedication to preserve Cherokee history and culture at New Echota, Ga., and Vann House.
• Approved Amber Lynn George, of Tahlequah, to the Cherokee Nation Foundation board. George received a Master of Arts from University of Tulsa in speech language pathology, has served on several boards and has extensive experience in fundraising for nonprofit organizations.
• Approved Glendon Kay Watkins, of Tahlequah, to the Economic Development Trust Authority Board of Directors. Watkins has more than 30 years of experience in the financial sector, most recently serving as senior vice president at BancFirst in Tahlequah before retiring in 2011.
• Approved Steven Wilson, of Tahlequah, as commissioner on the Cherokee Nation Tax Commission. Wilson graduated from Northeastern State University with a Bachelor of Science in education and has served on the Cherokee Nation Tax Commission.
The next Tribal Council meeting is scheduled for June 10 at 6 p.m.
Cherokee Nation News Release
Julie Hubbard - 918-207-3896
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